The year 2019 has been a great year for the sports industry in India with a busy cricket calendar including the ICC Cricket World Cup in England for ODIs. A massive number of sports fans chose to consume their favorite sports events online, especially on their smartphones. As a result, the Indian smartphone market added nearly 100 million new users taking the overall internet user base to 600 million in 2019.
This opened up a huge opportunity for all online content platforms to engage and onboard new users. As consumption for sporting events online grew around 50% in 2019, OTT platform Hotstar managed to engage more than 300 million users, whereas Cricbuzz had more than 100 million users consuming its content. Even sports community platforms such as Rooter also pivoted from being a gaming and content provider to a content-based community platform in 8 languages in 2019.
Considering that the number of online viewers consuming sports content is expected to rise to 600 million in the next 2 years with 65% being non-English speakers, there was an absence of a dedicated regional-focussed content platform. According to Rooter founder and CEO Piyush Kumar, that is how his company identified its core audience and their needs, by focusing on content as a core product feature to create a robust community of sports fans.
“We have also launched the first-ever audio/video user-generated tool in sports on our platform, giving wings to millions of fans to go live, express themselves or even have a debate with other fans. The idea was to deliver an immersed sports fan experience,” said Kumar, adding that his company grew by 350% this year with more engagement and revenue base after it revamped platform and changed the way sports fans consume content online.
“We are now gearing up for 2020, which is again going to be an eventful year, lined up with marquee sports events like IPL, Euro 2020 football tournament, the Tokyo Summer Olympics and ICC World T20 Cricket tournament. We want to grow bigger creating a strong value proposition for sports fans globally and create our own leadership space in the sports content category in India addressing 500mn users in 2020,” said Kumar.